Sun. Sep 20th, 2020

Not just another game – Springbok skipper Kolisi

The Springboks face Japan in their Rugby World Cup quarterfinal on Sunday and their captain says it isn’t just another game.

not just another game springbok skipper kolisi 1024x598 - Not just another game – Springbok skipper Kolisi

Springbok captain Siya Kolisi says his team has embraced the mental challenge of a Rugby World Cup quarter-final against Japan as the countdown begins in earnest to Sunday’s 19h15 (12h15 SA time) kick off.

Kolisi, Handré Pollard (flyhalf) and Mzwandile Stick (assistant coach) attended a media conference following a reduced captain’s run at the Tokyo Stadium on Friday, which was attended by only the kickers.

Springboks captain’s run moved

The field will be in use for the New Zealand v Ireland quarter-final, which will be underway when the Boks’ captain’s run would normally take place. The Springbok’s captain’s run takes place on Saturday at their training ground.

“We’ve prepared as hard as always,” said Kolisi.

“It has been do-or-die for us since the first game so we have been in that mindset for a couple of weeks now. This is not like any other Test match – it’s play-off time at the World Cup and we have prepared mentally for it.

“Each of us will have different ways of doing that and the coaches haven’t put us under pressure mentally – we have prepared as a normal Test match week – but we know as players what we need to do and what needs to be done.

“I don’t think anyone needs to tell us that this is a big game. We know as players how big this is and if you don’t then you probably shouldn’t be here.”

Japan vs Springboks: A Brief but significant history

4d764bf4 springboks - Not just another game – Springbok skipper Kolisi
FUKUROI, JAPAN – OCTOBER 04: Mbongeni Mbonambi of South Africa celebrates with teammates after scoring his team’s second try during the Rugby World Cup 2019 Group B game between South Africa v Italy at Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa on October 04, 2019 in Fukuroi, Shizuoka, Japan. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Pollard was reminded that he had been a member of the team that lost to Japan in the previous World Cup and it is not an emotion he wants to repeat.

“That was very tough to handle,” the Springbok flyhalf said.

“That stuck with us until the game we played here. It’s something you never want to live through again. But four years ago was a completely different story; different South Africa side; different World Cup; different players.

“A lot has happened in the meantime. But us as a group who were part of that match don’t want to repeat those mistakes – hopefully we can show that during this play-off series. It’s not a focus for us, we’re just focusing on the match and playing our best rugby on Sunday and winning.”

Sticking to their guns

What the Springboks do best produced a 41-7 victory over Japan in Kumagaya six weeks ago and Stick said he saw no reason to deviate from that pattern:

“Both teams have improved quite a lot from that game but we are sticking to what we know best and nothing has changed from what we have been doing,” he said.

“The Japanese side play at a high tempo; have skillful players and you can see that they are well-drilled when it comes to coaching.

“They play what we call ‘champagne rugby’. If on the day it goes to hands, they can punish you. We have to make sure we are switched on and make sure we are organised.

“But if you look at our squad, we have got players from 1 to 23 that are really doing really, really well and most of the games we have played so far we have finished on a high note. That’s something we’d like to take forward into the quarterfinals on Sunday.”

The match between the Springboks and Japan will be broadcast on SuperSport (channel 201) and the SABC radio.

Issued by SA Rugby Communication edited by James Richardson

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